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Lara edges rookie Pagunsan to win Hong Kong Open

11/19/2006 - Golf

HONG KONG -- Jose Manuel Lara won the Hong Kong Open,
closing with a 1-under-par 69 Sunday to edge Juvic Pagunsan of the
Philippines by a stroke.

Lara led the tournament from start to finish to claim his first
European tour victory and become the third Spaniard to win this
event in the past five years.

He finished at 15-under 265 while Pagunsan had a 68 for 266 in
the $2 million tournament that is sanctioned by the European and
Asian tours.

"You can't believe how many people say to me every week, 'When
are you going to win?'" Lara said. "Now I win and everything is
good."

Finishing three strokes behind were Thailand's Thongchai Jaidee
(67), and India's Jeev Milkha Singh (66) and Jyoti Randhawa (66).

Spain's Miguel Angel Jimenez (68) and Denmark's Soren Kjelsdsen
(67) were next at 269. Jiminez, who won the event in 2004, had a
chance to move into third place, but he bogeyed the 18th when his
short putt lipped out.

Lara began the day with a two-stroke edge over Pagunsan, who
turned professional in the past year and won his first tournament
this year in the Philippines.

Pagunsan took the lead for the first time on the 11th hole,
which he birdied by hitting out of the rough and landing about 2
feet from the hole. Lara birdied the par-5 13th to tie it before
taking the lead for good on the 16th, which he birdied and Pagunsan
bogeyed.

"After the 14th hole I thought I was going to win, but maybe
this tournament wasn't mine," Pagunsan said. "It was for Lara."

Defending champion Colin Montgomerie, looking for his first
tournament win of the year, finished 10 strokes off the lead after
shooting his second consecutive 70.

"I'm tired. I'm looking forward to finishing the year," the
Scottish Ryder Cup star said. "I can't win this year -- not playing
well enough."

New Zealand's Michael Campbell, the 2005 U.S. Open champion, was
hampered by a sore ankle in the early rounds. He finished way back,
closing with a 75 for 283.